Trying on clothes,
the silk pattern I felt right
for a Hopi wedding,
should I ever be invited
to another one,
cups beneath my butt,
as so many things do these days.
Purchased in Phoenix for a $20 dollar bill,
It looks like a sarong but
underneath it is stitched in place.
I’ve got a thing for silk sarongs,
a soft drape next to my skin.
A black cat drapes
across the sofa,
I am wearing my latest
cheap black skirt,
which I bought for swish of its hem,
and its deep pockets, as well.
The stories our clothes
of female tenacity
of what is true that cannot die.
That Phoenix winter
I bought a lot of skirts
“I wish somebody loved me better skirts,”
I called them at the time,
a dozen or so by the same name.
And my “she won’t be coming back jacket,”
a title I stole from an art piece I saw.
Shoes were titled then too,
shoes which today I confess
have gotten too small,
as so much has
for my profoundly voluptuous body.
At least in all this letting go,
I’ve gotten my humor back,
and not a minute too soon.
I like to think of my flesh
as a song with many choruses,
the way Lucille Clifton
standing full and proud at the podium
made me stand up again in who I am.
What shabby man was it anyway
who made me start doubting
my own material form,
who drove me to buy more skirts
than I need.
Who made me think that to continue
to live was a failure of sorts,
like I should have died at twenty-three
when I had what my husband
admired as perfect breasts,
breasts that had not yet served
any function, except to please.
I could have done better I’m sure
but exactly how much is hard to tell.
These days I keep trying on clothes,
I know other women don’t have to so much,
the ones who seem to stay the same,
the ones who pass through
the Great Divide,
a single inconvenience in an afternoon.
What is it that makes women like that
and why have I never lived
the life of one of them?
Older women talk of things I never knew,
of how they haven’t worn
a sleeveless shirt in years,
who would have known
we had to prepare for that?
I am trying on clothes,
this month the ankle-length
is beginning to bulge at the bust.
And the two-piece bold print cotton,
which frankly I’ve always been
ambivalent about is bulging as well.
This continual processing
in my life.
It requires so much decision-making,
Good Will or Resale or give away.
I’ve concluded I don’t like seeing
myself come back at me,
I’ve left instructions that when I die
I don’t want my clothes going to people I know.
I have always had a monkish tendency
and don’t do well owning very many clothes
at any given time, just the few things
I am currently loyal to.
And the ones I’ll always remember
that were pivotal to my
development as a human being,
as a woman.